What to Do in Singapore this Chinese New Year If You're Not Celebrating

CNY Guide: What You Can Actually Do in Singapore this Chinese New Year if You’re Not Celebrating [UPDATED 2021]

A huat-tastic guide for a fun-filled Chinese New Year!

Singapore somewhat transforms into a deserted town every year during Chinese New Year. This comes as no surprise considering the fact that Chinese makes up 74.3% of the resident population and the majority of them observe the festival that marks the beginning of a new year in the lunar calendar. 

For those celebrating, it is an exuberant time to catch up with family and friends and chow down on festive treats. For the rest, turning into a couch potato and binge-watching Netflix seems like the only possibility to while away time during the public holiday. Fret not, you don’t have to turn into a sluggard and miss out on all the fun (unless you have no qualms about it) this Chinese New Year.

We have rounded up a few fun things you can do to make the most out of your well-deserved festive break right here on our sunny island.

1. Hit one of the perfect picnic spots

Image credit: Nguyen Thu Hoai

Wondering where the best spots to enjoy a delightful picnic with your loved ones are  this Chinese New Year? We have got you covered.

  • East Coast Park
  • West Coast Park
  • Pasir Ris Park
  • Jurong Lake Gardens
  • Marina Barrage
  • Singapore Botanic Gardens

Gather your friends and family (not more than 8 people) for a whale of a time under the glorious sun, surrounded not by the usual crowds you’ll find in these places, but by just the picturesque scenery. Play a game of freeze tag and sing along to famous hits together. Pack up delicious picnic grubs for a fun outdoor meal. Remember to slather on some sunscreen to protect yourself from prolonged exposure to the sun’s rays. 

You will have an indelible Chinese New Year for sure!

2. Stroll around Gardens by the Bay

Feast your eyes upon a stunning display of dahlias (all grown in-house for the first time), chrysanthemums, azaleas and auspicious elements  amongst other visual treats at the Flower Dome. The arresting horticulture makes for a great way to usher in the ox-pixious new year and the perfect backdrop for your Instagram shots.

Pre-book your tickets and time slot to catch sight of Dahlia Dreams here!

3. Unleash the kid in you at Universal Studios Singapore

Head down to Universal Studios Singapore to celebrate the auspicious day with an exciting lineup of activities. Trail a transcendental dragon dance on the sprawling park and snap photos with your favourite characters donning traditional costumes. Enjoy the adrenaline-pumping rides and stirring displays. Sounds like so much fun! Book your tickets here!

Also read: 21 Things to Do in Singapore With Your Significant Other

4. Behold an underwater dragon dance at S.E.A. Aquarium

Watch divers put up an enthralling dragon dance performance underwater — that’s not something you get to see often. A dragon dance is known to drive away evil spirits and usher in good luck. Also, observe the marine realm of S.E.A. Aquarium, which boasts diverse species of marine animals and has been specially adorned in festive grandeur to aggrandise the sheer ebullience of Chinese New Year.

Find out more here!

5. Shop at Mustafa centre

Image credit: Fabio Achilli

You will be glad to know that the 24-hour department store located along Syed Alwi Road in Little India will be opened on Chinese New Year! Spread over two buildings and six storeys, you can get your hands on practically anything. Run out of groceries or fresh produce and the supermarket located near you is not operating? Fret not — stop by Mustafa Centre at any time of the day and stock up on everything that you need (and anything that you might not really need). Just remember to adhere to the safe distancing measures to enjoy a fuss-free shopping experience!

 Address: 145 Syed Alwi Rd, Singapore 207704

6. Dine in at a hipster eatery at Haji Lane

Image credit: Bna Ignacio

HajI Lane is a food lover’s paradise. From Japanese to Mediterranean and cupcakes to murtabak, you are bound to find something to satiate your taste buds. Chill out if you feel peckish this Chinese New Year and don’t intend to slurp down a cup of instant noodles, these restaurants will keep you satisfied. Be sure to call in before making your way down to find out if the diner you have in mind is open on the gazetted public holiday and ascertain the opening hours. 

While you are at Haji Lane, take in sights of the stunning, vibrant graffiti art on the walls of the shophouses. Step up your Instagram game by posting a photo of yourself against the colourful walls.

7. Have a staycation

Everyone craves a vacation — a respite from the humdrum of everyday life especially at a time when travel restrictions are in place. Let’s face it though, it takes hours of planning and a fortune to have the perfect holiday, especially during the festive season when flights may incur serious peak prices. Why not transport yourself to a different time and place all without stepping foot out of Singapore this Chinese New Year? Yes, as insane as it sounds, it is possible. Have a staycation at one of the many renowned hotels in Singapore. Unwind and rejuvenate without burning a hole in your pocket. Make sure to utilise the hotel’s amenities to your heart’s content and use your SingapoRediscover Vouchers to enjoy more savings.

8. Spruce up your home with furniture from IKEA

Spring cleaning is an unmissable tradition observed every Chinese New Year.  It is often carried out days prior to the celebration to make room for better things to come. While it is forbidden to sweep and clean on the most auspicious day of the lunar calendar (beliefs are that you’ll be sweeping good luck away), you can visit IKEA to get furnishing inspirations and a slew of decor to beautify your home. 

There is something ethereal about visiting IKEA and doing so on Chinese New Year (when it may possibly not be crowded) that can enliven the experience!

9. Join in the festivities at River Hongbao

A quintessential event that’s held annually, River Hongbao has become a deep-rooted tradition of ushering in the Chinese New Year in Singapore since 1987. What’s different this year though is that it would be held at Gardens by the Bay for the first time. Plus, visitors must book a time slot on the River Hongbao website to bask in the CNY festivities. 

Our favourite parts of the event are the myriad of activities that everyone can enjoy as well as the spread of authentic local street food that will surely tantalise your taste buds. The larger-than-life lanterns embodying Chinese mythical figures will take your breath away and make for the perfect backdrop for your photos. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled on the pre-recorded dance performances that will be screened on a stage.

Address: Gardens by the Bay

Event period: 10 February to 16 February 2021

Also read: How to Spend Your SingapoRediscovers Vouchers: Here’s What You Need to Know

10. Take part in festive activities

Make your way to Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall with your lil ones this CNY. There, the Wan Qing Festival of Spring will unfold from 5 January to 28 February 2021. Expect to partake in a series of exciting lineups ideal for those young and young at heart. Think the likes of lion dance, festive drum workshops, heritage walking trails, and craft activities. In addition to all that fun, the memorial hall will be decked out in festive decorations. So, remember to bring along your camera so that you can snap up some family photos for the gram!

Address: Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall

Event period: 5 January to 28 February 2021

And there, now you can have just as exciting and prosperous a Chinese New Year as those who are out and about visiting relatives. Gong Xi Fa Cai!

About Author

Ifah Sakinah
Ifah Sakinah

Sakinah has a discerning palate and an innate desire to satisfy her inner curiosity. While she hasn't been everywhere, it's definitely on her list.

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